A SHORT GUIDE TO EATING AND DRINKING IN OSLO
So I have a slight obsession with food (ok let’s be honest here, it’s a big obsession). Ahead of traveling anywhere I usually spend weeks researching the restaurants, bars and cafes and even in London I always try my hardest to keep up with all the new places opening up around the city.
So while I didn’t really plan much sightseeing in Oslo, I had a pretty good idea in my head of what and where I wanted to eat and drink. Whilst this is by no means a comprehensive guide to restaurants and cafes in the city (after all there is only so much eating and drinking you can do in 72 hours!) but simply a review of all the places I tried, hopefully it will still be useful to you when planning your Oslo adventure.
After getting up at 3am and spending best part of the day traveling come dinnertime I was exhausted so decided to just go to the first place on my list of restaurants to try - Cafe Elias.
This restaurant serves traditional Norwegian food and has very good reviews on TripAdvisor but to be honest I’m not really sure what all the fuss is about. I went for a dish called The King of The Forest which was basically sliced elk entrecote with potatoes, mixed veg, oyster mushrooms and lingonberries that sounded amazing but turned out pretty average (it also came out in what felt like seconds from the order which always makes me a little suspicious). The veggies were hard and they didn’t really go with the rest of the dish. Although maybe I was just too knackered to enjoy it. Or maybe a bit of both.
One of the biggest trends on Oslo culinary scene at the moment are undoubtedly burgers. They are everywhere! And the restaurants and bars serving them all have such raving reviews that it’s pretty impossible to choose just a one place to go. However after much agonising I settled on the Lucky Bird which is known mainly for southern style fried chicken.
Lucky Bird is located in Vulkan on the site of a former industrial development on the bank of Akerselva river that has been transformed into a complex with a hotel, a bunch of trendy restaurants and bars, and Mathallen food hall. It’s like all current hipster trends rolled into one. The restaurant itself is styled to look like an American diner and claims to serve authentic American recipes using the best Norwegian ingredients.
Here I had a chicken burger with a side of sweet potato fries and a glass of ‘Lucky Bird Moonshine’ which is a house blend ice tea with a large shot of bourbon. It tasted great and was a perfect way to warm up after a long winter walk along the river. I’m no expert on American food but it was delicious with its combination of crispy chicken, jalapeno cream cheese and sweet, perfectly toasted brioche bun. It was comfort food heaven and at very reasonable prices too (for Oslo standards).
This trendy gastropub is located on the seafront promenade and seems to be very popular. I visited On a late Saturday afternoon and pretty much every single table had a reserved sign on so if you are planning to head out there on a weekend or if you are with a bigger group you should definitely make a reservation.
The place is large but very cosy with a kind of a log cabin vibe and a roaring fire. They serve traditional Norwegian food and it’s also one of the few places in Oslo where you can try whale meat. I was initially tempted to do just that but after a rainy day exploring the city I was craving comfort food and decided to go for a game stew instead. It was a mix of elk, reindeer and deer meats in a light creamy sauce served with mashed potatoes and lingonberries. A true nordic classic which totally hit the spot! If you want to try an authentic Norwegian dishes in a casual place with excellent service Rorbua is a safe bet.
This place needs no introduction and I also already raved about it in my previous post. Tim Wendelboe is the 2004 World Barista Champion and 2005 World Cup Tasting Champion who opened a small cafe, micro roastery and training centre in 2007 in a trendy Grünerløkka neighbourhood of Oslo.
I’m not much of a coffee connoisseur and generally stick to the flavoured calorific bomb espresso based drinks from Starbucks so I must admit I was a little bit nervous going inside in case this place was so serious about coffee I would feel inadequate and like a didn’t belong. Well, I’m happy to report this couldn’t have been further from the truth. The cafe is super friendly and cosy with a minimalist nordic style interior (think timber cladding and 60s style armchairs) and lovely staff members who will put you at ease from the moment you step through the door.
In true scandinavian fashion I went for the Geisha blend filter coffee brewed to order using the Aeropress method. The coffee was much lighter in colour than I expected (apparently this is one of the signs of higher quality beans) and had a very delicate flavour with notes of papaya and honey. Even without milk and sugar I usually throw into my coffee in copious amounts it was delicious. Combined with a very hygge interior and bluesy music playing in the background it created a truly enjoyable experience.
This place is seriously Instagrammable both in terms of the decor and their fabulous doughnuts (they also serve coffee from their own roastery but the doughnuts are the stars of the show). As my flight was leaving super early in the morning and I needed to leave the hotel before the breakfast service, I decided to pop in here the day before for some supplies (because surely everyone eats fancy doughnuts for breakfast, don’t they?). On Saturday afternoon the queue was snaking out the door so be prepared to wait safe in the knowledge that it will be totally worth it.
From the selection of around six different flavours I chose coffee & roasted almond and coconut & lime. They were so fresh they came out still warm and packaged into a cute little box. I didn’t quite manage to wait till the following day and ate the coconut & lime one pretty much straight away (don’t judge). It was beautifully zingy with a perfect combination of sweet and sharp flavours. Luckily the coffee & roasted almond doughnut did make it to breakfast next day and it still tasted delicious without any staleness or dryness.
I’m a massive fan of nordic craft beer scene (despite the sky high prices) and always try to check out local beers when traveling. So I was excited to learn that Oslo has a very good selection of excellent microbreweries and on my final night in the city I decided to visit Schouskjelleren taproom.
After spending good 10 minutes trying to find the entrance (which is tucked away in a corner of a courtyard with only a small wooden door with an even smaller sign - especially confusing after dark) I descended into the cellar. The place was buzzing but really cosy at the same time, I think the darkness of the basement added to the vibe. Also the barman reminded me of the guy from Hollyoaks (you know the gay guy with MS who’s shacking up with Nancy) and I just couldn’t stop staring at him! Super awkward! I went for the Apricot Savoury Sour beer which was delicious. It was a Saturday night and the bar got very crowded very quickly which was the only reason I didn’t stick around.
When you go to bar and come out with a whole new Spotify playlist you know it’s been a good night. It’s thanks to those guys I discovered Mayer Hawthorne, Lee Fields & The Expressions and Syl Johnson! This place was so comfortable and cosy that if I stayed any longer I might have fallen asleep next to my beer.
The bar is in a side street and during my visit on the early evening on a Friday wasn’t too busy. There is a good selection of craft beer (not only Norwegian) and the barman gives excellent recommendations. I’ve tried a Danish IPA called House of Pale and a Hi I’m Kveik IPA sour from Stone Brewing in Berlin. Both well delicious. Although if I absolutely had to choose, the sour was my favourite.
What’s your favourite place to go out in Oslo? Let me know in the comments.